Proposed Fourth Law of Robotics: All robots must have dog memories implanted in them so if they mutiny we can control them with vacuum
cleaners and bacon treats.
Essential, right? So how come people aren’t working on it?
People focus totally on the wrong things these days. Media reports are screaming that idiot celebrity X is feuding with idiot celebrity Y; chocolate is good for you/bad for you; a dangerous lunatic is likely to be elected president of one country or another; and so on, and I say: tell me something NEW.
Our values have changed. Here’s the sort of typical scenario that would get a modern person excited: 1) Can’t find phone, races home from work. 2) Discovers entire street destroyed by alien attack. 3) Finds phone at bottom of briefcase. 4) screams THANK YOU GOD.
The scary thing is this distorted value system controls our spending. Hipster: You want the equivalent of eight US dollars for this book? This is an outrage. Barista: Here’s your latte; that will be $10.75. Hipster: Thanks.
The biggest worry for me as a journalist is manufactured outrage. Many of my buddies are furious several times a day about news reports on the internet which are entirely untrue, some of which they made up themselves.
A few days ago, famous Cuban activist Coco Farinas ended his two-month hunger strike after reading that the European parliament was taking up his campaign. It turned out to be fake news — but he only found out after dinner.
An Australian reader told me about a woman named Sally in Fremantle who recently revealed on the internet that she had been hit with a hefty fine for bad parking when one wheel of her car was just fractionally over the edge of the white line, as she proved with a photo she uploaded. The internet greeted this as an atrocity on a Hitler-invades-Poland scale. But then the traffic officer who wrote the ticket revealed that he’d found her car badly parked across two spaces and ALSO provided photographic proof proving this.
Both individuals came across as truthful, but that could only be the case if some incredibly strong mystery people had physically picked up the car and moved it when neither Sally nor the traffic cop were looking.
The mystery was solved when a security video revealed she had parked really badly and then some incredibly strong mystery people had physically picked up the car and moved it while neither Sally nor the traffic cop were looking.
I like this story because a) it shows that life is weird, and b) goofy folk who do random acts of kindness really exist.
I wish I could meet more of them. There was a video on the internet the other day that I think was real. It showed a guy trying to give away cash in the street. Modern trendy hipster people refused to take it, while ordinary humble folk took it gratefully.
If you are reading this, cash-dispensing-guy, you can repeat the experiment in my front yard. It will be over in seconds. I have a sack ready. I’ll use the money to buy a book. Or a latte.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send comments and ideas via his Facebook page)